VoteWatch Analytical Tool: Uncover which MEPs can help you advance your agenda. Part 5: Social policy

This report is part of the new VoteWatch series showing you how to build your strategy using our new analytical tool (which is explained in-depth here) and which allows you to quickly identify kingmakers and swing-voters among MEPs. This tool is already been used by key stakeholders active in EU policy-making.

We show the positions of each MEP on key parts of the EU social policy agenda and highlight which MEPs are convinced (on either side), and which remain to be brought on board to secure majorities.

Check out similar analyses on other policy areas (e.g. climate, trade, etc.) here.

Use this analytical tool to spot:

a) how influential MEPs are in a given policy area

b) in which direction each MEP is pulling EU legislation.


Reminder on why to use the new VoteWatch analytical tool 

Because politicians do not form their opinions in a vacuum, MEPs need to collect information and expertise, especially on issues on which they do not have any professional experience. Consequently, MEPs welcome new information from stakeholders (be it political, public or private sector). Doru Peter Frantescu, CEO and co-founder of VoteWatch Europe, recently shared his insights on how stakeholders can work with MEPs in this John Harper Publishing new book – How to Work with the EU Institutions: A Practical Guide to Successful Public Affairs in the EU.


How does this information look like in our new analytical tool?


Above you see the position of each MEP on EU social policy (each interactive dot holds the information about an MEP). The more an MEP is placed to the right of this chart, the more that MEP supports an ambitious EU policy in this area. On the contrary, the more an MEP is placed to the left of this chart, the more negative an MEP is towards this. The level of influence (up to August) of each is displayed on the vertical axis: the higher an MEP is placed on that axis, the greater the influence this MEP exerts over EU social policy decisions.

This first chart shows the position of all MEPs (regardless of their committee membership). Pay particular attention to the interactive dots that are positioned in the middle, and especially in the proximity of the majority line, because those are the MEPs who will decide to support or reject a proposal at the last moment (and in doing so, they hold the key to the fate of a proposal). You can filter the MEPs by country (use the drop-down menu on the left side) or by political group (click on the name of a political group). Roll over your mouse over each dot to learn more information. 

Note: in the free version of this report we display limited information in the charts. To discover the names of the MEPs you need to log in with a premium account. If you don't have a premium account yet, please contact us at [email protected] to discuss the terms. 


Unsurprisingly, the support for increased social funding and employment policy harmonisation is unequally distributed across the European Parliament. Among the fiercest supporters of these initiatives, we find the majority of the left-wing groups, namely GUE/NGL and the Greens/EFA. Interestingly, S&D seems to be less cohesive on these topics compared to the Greens and GUE/NGL, thus reflecting the bigger geographical diversity within the Social-Democratic group. 

While MEPs from Renew Europe are less supportive of social policy initiatives compared to the left-wing forces, it appears that the centrist group is fractured between its progressive wing and its economically-liberal wing, the latter group of MEPs being closer to the positions of the EPP group. The group led by Manfred Weber also experiences a few deviations but remains on average relatively reluctant to support a stronger role for the EU in this policy field. Finally, the case of the ID group is interesting since it clearly illustrates the national divergences within the European Parliament.


The second chart focuses only on the MEPs who are members of the main relevant committee. Thus, the positions of all MEPs belonging to the EP’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL). 


Identify the kingmakers and the swing-voters 

Our analytical tool highlights which MEPs are the kingmakers and the swing voters when decisions are made: the swing-voters are in the area surrounding the majority line (the yellow area) while the kingmakers are in the area where influence (the blue area) overlaps with the swing-voters area. The MEPs that have more moderate views / are undecided whether increased regulation and funding on social and employment issues is a good idea will generally be more receptive to new information as they probably have not yet decided which amendments to support and how to vote. Conversely, MEPs that hold strongly crystallized views on social policies (i. e. are either strongly supportive or strongly opposed) will arguably be less receptive to alternative views, as they have made up their mind long ago. 

Keep in mind that this matrix shows the MEPs’ support and influence on social and labour policy in general. However, MEPs and national parties can have nuanced views of these social policies. For instance, the French delegation of EPP (Les Républicains) supported the increased funding of the European Social Fund (ESF+), but would not go as far as voting for a two-fold increase.

Ideally, you would focus your efforts on the kingmakers or on the heads of national delegations (as they have a greater potential of influencing their compatriots) in order to make the best use of your resources. However, be aware that influence is not something static, but it evolves continuously, i.e. certain MEPs become more influential as they gain more experience in the EP and in international affairs in general, or because their party comes to power in their country, etc. 

Irrespective of your agenda, the strategy that you should pursue is “maintain and reach out” – i. e. maintain the support of politicians  that share your views (especially those that you may easily lose) and reach out to the ones in the middle to build majorities.


Example of how our tool predicts and projects the positions of the MEPs when a key decision is made 


The chart above shows the position of each MEP on a particular proposal, namely the introduction of a permanent European unemployment reinsurance scheme. The dots are now colored in green (MEPs who voted in favour), red (MEP voted against) and yellow (MEP abstained).

As the tool predicted, generally speaking, MEPs who are reluctant to further regulation and more ambitious employment policy (on the left of the chart) voted to reject the reinsurance scheme, while MEPs who favour greater involvement of the EU in social and labour issues (on the right of the chart) supported it. The battleground were the MEPs in the middle, where the pro-regulation campaign managed to capture more moderated MEPs than the pro free-market campaign, which also explains the final outcome (adoption of the proposal).

The opponents of the initiative, concentrated on the left side of the majority line (among right-wing groups), did not manage to convince enough middle-ground MEPs to impede the adoption of the proposal they were opposing. This is, once again, a striking example of the crucial role that the kingmakers play in the majority-building of each initiative.

Below, another example of coalition-building on social policy issues, leading to a completely different outcome, as in this case CEE MEPs seem to be more supportive. Other examples are available upon request: posted workers, youth guarantee, gender pay gap, minimum income and much more! For more information, contact us at [email protected]


Who are the key MEPs ? 

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This analysis is part of VoteWatch Premium Service. To read the full analysis you need to log-in with a PREMIUM account. If you don't have one, contact us at  [email protected]